Yes Sir, That’s my Twitter!

Twitter Home PageI am a Twitter enthusiast…..a middle-aged geek who thinks that Twitter is the best thing to come around since, well, email.    Have you discovered Twitter yet?  If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Hey, if you’re reading this blog, you’re computer literate enough to use Twitter.  In fact, I think you might find that you will enjoy it more than email.

Let me give you a quick tour of Twitter.    Sign up is free and really easy to accomplish.  After you sign up, you’ll want to go to your Settings page where you’ll set up your account, including a brief  bio about yourself that will appear on your profile page.  You’ll also indicate which time zone you are in here, enter your blog address or homepage (if you have one), set up whether or not you want to receive your Tweets (more about these later) on your cellphone, and have the chance to customize how your Twitter home page will look.

Twitter Profile PageBefore we go any further, let me give you some Twitter vocabulary.  Twitter is the actual social network.   A tweet is a short message posted on Twitter.   Followers are people on Twitter who are officially “following” your tweets.  They are reading what you post.  Other people may be reading your tweets if you have set up your account so that it is public, but your “followers” are the ones who have subscribed to your tweets.  Vice versa, if you decide to subscribe to someone else’s tweets (it’s free), you will be following them.    A DM is a “direct message” that someone can tweet directly to you and is seen only by you.   There are other terms like twibe (groups on Twitter united by common interests) and tweople (people who twitter), but don’t worry about those for now.  Incidentally, Jennifer Laycock has some great tutorials on how to get started using Twitter.

You’ll want to Find People to follow next.  It won’t be too interesting to use Twitter if you don’t have anything to read.  Twitter gives you some choices.  If you click on the Find People link at the top of the Twitter screen, you can search by user name or first and last names or even click on the “Suggested Users” tab and look through a list of folks/organizations that Twitter recommends to get you started …..like Oprah, NPR, BBC, Brent Spiner (yay, Data).  From Britney Spears to John McCain….they’re up there.  Chances are that you’ve got friends that are on Twitter already, too.   And once you’ve found some fun folks to follow, they might participate in “Follow Fridays”, where they post user names of folks that they recommend you follow.

TwitterFox ShotOnce you’re following tweople, you’ll probably want some sort of browser extension to make it easier to check out new tweets without having to open up and log into Twitter.  I use TwitterFox , which is a FireFox extension for my Mozilla Firefox Web browser.  Most of the time it sits down in the corner of my monitor window when I’m surfing the Web and a number beside the “t” shows how many new tweets I have to read.  When a new tweet is posted by someone that I’m following, a little window pops up for just a few seconds….long enough for me to eyeball what it is saying.  If I want to read the new tweets, I click the little icon and a larger window pops up, allowing me to scroll through the tweets.  And I can tweet directly from TwitterFox, including send replies to specific tweets.  Want more connectivity?  My Twitter account is set up to send my tweets to my Facebook account automatically so when I tweet in TwitterFox, I am also updating my Facebook account.

Haven’t convinced you that Twitter is worth trying?  Tune in tomorrow afternoon when I’ll be posting about why I prefer Twitter over email.

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